What to expect from the Xbox Games Showcase 2024: A roadmap for the future, and big questions answered — but will you like the answers?

Xbox Games Showcase 2024
(Image credit: Microsoft)

The Xbox Games Showcase 2024 kicks off on June 9, 2024, streamed live across Xbox's YouTube channel and other places. It will also be followed by a Call of Duty Direct, revealing the next Black Ops title, while confirming its inclusion in Xbox Game Pass. 

The theme of this year's Xbox Games Showcase 2024 will be one of change. There will be some familiar beats — incredible looking games, sequels to beloved franchises, and revivals of some Xbox classics. But, a cloud remains over the overarching strategy, with Xbox publishing games more broadly than it ever has previously. 

In prior Xbox showcases, Microsoft made a huge song and dance of the word "EXCLUSIVE," with deep cinematic delivery. Given Microsoft has started porting older Xbox games to PlayStation now, I have a feeling there will be a lot less of that "EXCLUSIVE" verbiage this year, with the potential that one or two, or maybe even more, first-party titles revealed at this showcase will not be truly "console exclusive." 

The internet has debated the merits of that strategy ad nauseum, but what isn't up for debate is how important raw quality will be at this showcase. This is Microsoft's first showing in the fully post-pandemic era, and many of the previously announced titles and previously acquired studios have yet to really bear fruit. I am confident that we'll start to reap the benefits of those acquisitions at this event. The potential for this show to be remembered as one of Xbox's best events for raw gaming quality is incredibly high. 

There's so much we COULD see, but what WILL we see?

You can bet money that we'll see another glimpse of Obsidian's upcoming RPG "Avowed" at this year's show.  (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Microsoft has a truly massive slate of previously announced Xbox games that have largely gone dark since their original reveal. Everwild, Fable, Perfect Dark, State of Decay 3, Contraband, amongst various others. The more recently-revealed games like Blade, Clockwork Revolution, and Indiana Jones are less likely to get another section at this event potentially at least — but I think it's safe to assume at least some of the long-time holdouts will finally be revealed. 

Microsoft has likely learned some harsh lessons from announcing certain projects too early. There's been a lot of rumors about "troubled" development for titles like Everwild, which lost key creative staff and sits beneath the demanding live service that is Sea of Thieves at Rare. The Initiative's entire structure was upended too during the development of Perfect Dark, moving from a flat structure to something of a more traditional format. Contraband, formerly (and exclusively) revealed by us as Project Typhoon has also had some difficult development since its reveal, owing to the pandemic in part, but also due to departing key directorial staff. At least in the case of one of these, I've heard that Perfect Dark is shaping up nicely now — which is why I'd pin my hopes here for a more in-depth reveal among some of Xbox's more elusive titles. 

Perfect Dark is a sci-fi spy-thriller being developed by The Initiative and Crystal Dynamics of Tomb Raider fame. The original has a cult following, developed by Rare as a successor to GoldenEye 007. I would bet money on this making an appearance this year. 

Last we heard, Perfect Dark's reboot revolves around a climate crisis.  (Image credit: Xbox)

Another title I'm incredibly eager to see is State of Decay 3, and it seems high time that we get a bigger glimpse at it on June 9. 

State of Decay 2 was derided as "State of Decay 1.5" by some at launch, owing to its very iterative feel. The zombie apocalypse simulation title is an ambitious attempt to thread third-person combat with overarching strategy survival simulation gameplay, complete with co-op with friends. However, the awkward tethering system from State of Decay 2 made co-operative play something of a chore, and the fundamentals hadn't changed a great deal from its predecessor. Since then, Undead Labs and its partners worked tirelessly to add new content, mechanics, and polish to State of Decay 2, while preparing the shift to State of Decay 3. 

It has previously been said that State of Decay 3 enlisted the help of The Coalition of Gears of War fame to upgrade their visuals. I've previously criticized Microsoft for using slick photorealistic CGI to tease future projects, only for the finished project to look absolutely nothing like what was teased. However, I've heard via trusted sources that State of Decay 3 does look far more impressive than its predecessor, with more attention to visual presentation being a core pillar. In addition, State of Decay 3 will also lean more heavily into narrative elements to immerse you in the game's world. Your community in State of Decay 2 is your "main character," but their back stories rarely come into play while experiencing the game. State of Decay 3 will try to work individual community members backstories more viscerally into gameplay, to make their trials more impactful and immersive. Losing your favorite community member to the plague should be more of a gut punch in State of Decay 3 as a result. 

State of Decay 3 should represent a visual upgrade over its predecessor.  (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

There are some more obvious candidates too, given their launch windows. Avowed from Obsidian is almost certain to make an appearance, and I've heard the latest build looks a lot more impressive than its previous reveal. Southern-gothic action game South of Midnight could also get an official launch date, alongside co-op side-scrolling brawler Towerborne and 4X strategy title ARA: History Untold. There's also Flight Simulator 2024 to consider, and potential updates on some of Microsoft's service games like Sea of Thieves and Fallout 76. There are some potentially bigger, more headline-making games poised for a greater reveal as well. 

Gears of War has been quiet in recent years. The Coalition arguably carried Microsoft's Xbox alongside Playground's Forza franchise in some ways, but has taken a much longer time out to craft the next entry in the series. The Coalition has also been working hard to help some of Microsoft's other studios squeeze more juice out of the Unreal Engine, and we've seen some of the fruits of that in games like Hellblade 2 more recently. But now, it might be time for The Coalition to step out of the shadows, with rumors abound that a Gears of War 6 reveal may be on the docket. There's also been some long-standing rumors that The Coalition has built a Halo: Master Chief-like collection of its previous games, comprising Gears of War 1 through 3, remastered with fresh visuals. If indeed the project is real, announcing it alongside a similarly theoretical Gears 6 teaser would be a welcome combo. 

Perhaps we could also see some of Xbox's other pillar franchises, like Forza make a splash at the showcase too. It has been a while since we've had a new Forza Horizon title, perhaps partially owing to the development of Fable and the healthy concurrent player base on Forza Horizon 5. Speaking of which, could we see Fable appear here again? To guess, it may still be too early for a live demonstration, but we can't be too far off seeing that as well. I also doubt we'll be seeing any glimpses of Halo at this event, but it's well-known that 343i is in the shadows, preparing the next iteration of Microsoft's most prolific (and arguably, most mishandled) franchise. 

When it comes to pillar franchises like Halo, Forza, and Gears, many are wondering where they might fit in Microsoft's multiplatform push, codenamed Latitude at the firm. We should be getting an update on that during the Xbox Showcase period as well. 

Questions of strategy will cloud the event

DOOM: Year Zero leaked with FTC court documents last summer, could that make an appearance? (Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

I previously noted that I've heard there are more Xbox-owned titles slated for multiplatform treatment in the near term. I think an obvious example that we could see go multiplatform, as in Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5, would be the next DOOM. 

id Software's legendary and pioneering first-person shooter franchise is now wholly owned by Microsoft. Many have been probably wondering whether or not the next instalment would be held off competing platforms. Perhaps in yesteryear, but with Microsoft supporting PlayStation more than ever before, I think DOOM would be a likely candidate here. DOOM "Year Zero" leaked as part of the FTC snafu last summer, and while there's no real hints at exactly what it could be beyond the title, I imagine it would be a prequel of sorts, or perhaps with some time travel shenanigans baked in. DOOM is already a prolific franchise on PlayStation, with every single title available to play. If there was one first-party multiplatform to expect from this show, it would be that one. 

But what about more retroactive ports, like Sea of Thieves or Hi-Fi Rush? I don't think it's beyond the realm of possibility that we could see some of Microsoft's older games head to PlayStation as well. Microsoft is eager to improve its gaming margins after its gargantuan $72 billion+ acquisition of Activision-Blizzard, and bringing across additional games from the firm's back catalogue is probably an easy way to make some extra cash and keep your internal studios cashflow positive. 

Microsoft's gamble here is that Xbox will continue to sell and be desirable even without console exclusives. Many are sceptical, including myself — but perhaps that scepticism will be proven unfounded in the coming years. In any case, Xbox CEO Phil Spencer said previously that its 4-game "experiment" of Hi-Fi Rush, Sea of Thieves, Pentiment, and Grounded wasn't a guarantee we'd see more coming across — but I'm not sure anyone believed they'd stop at those four. What remains to be seen is how Microsoft positions all of this. Will Microsoft mention PlayStation at its show? In years past, companies did everything they could to avoid mentioning each other, and there's no evidence that Sony has any plans whatsoever to reciprocate and bring even its service titles like Helldivers 2 to Xbox. Microsoft may just be falling into a trap of short-term thinking here, and without good messaging, Microsoft's positioning has the potential to hollow out support for the remains of its hardware ecosystem.

Gears of War 4 promotional screenshot

If there IS a Gears 6 teaser at the show, there could be some cryptic hints about what kind of enhancements to expect. I've heard some tentative, unverified rumors that improving melee combat has been a focus for Gears 6, for example.  (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Speaking of which, should we expect to see hardware teases at this show? In years past, Microsoft has generally not revealed hardware at its E3-season summer showcases. Perhaps the most you can expect is a tease, but we already have a picture of what the next Xbox looks like to some degree. It will be a device closer to Windows than ever, with Xbox CEO Phil Spencer teasing their desire to bring third-party Windows gaming stores like Epic to Xbox. How will the economics of that work? It remains to be seen, but I think it's unlikely we'll find out at this show. 

I suspect a lot of the interviews and discourse during this week will revolve around Xbox's overarching strategy. Without exclusives, how will hardware sell? Why should developers invest in Xbox's future if Microsoft isn't competing there? And so on. There's also the matter of Microsoft's recent studio closures, like Tango, and how that has widened the examination into Microsoft's operations. 

It has almost become a cliché for headlines that read along the lines of "this is Xbox's most important showcase ever," like every year is a do or die moment for Xbox. The reality is, of course, very different. Xbox has higher monthly active console users than ever, according to them. They also report the highest gaming revenue they've ever had to the SEC, even before the acquisition of Activision-Blizzard. Yet still, significant challenges remain over Xbox and the games industry in general, as hiring sprees during the pandemic has forced big platform holders to reprioritize as game time hours shrink. There are widespread rumors that Xbox Game Pass will get price increases, and maybe even functionality shifts, as Microsoft figures out what kind of
impact Call of Duty will have when it enters the subscription. 

What do YOU want to see?

Mephisto Lord of Hatred

We will most likely see a glimpse at Diablo 4's first expansion: Vessel of Hatred, at the showcase. There is no Blizzcon this year, and Diablo 4 is enjoying a resurgence right now thanks to Season 4's positive reception.  (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)
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There's still a ton of other things we'll likely see at this event that I haven't mentioned, without making this article into a novel. The Starfield Shattered Space DLC expansion is undoubtedly going to get its debut, as Bethesda looks to fill in the gaps in its sci-fi RPG with ground vehicles and other much-wanted features. I suspect we'll also see Diablo 4's expansion, Vessel of Hatred, get some gameplay footage potentially. Since there's no Blizzcon this year, we could also get a glimpse of World of Warcraft: The War Within too, given that it's launching some time towards the end of the summer. We're also, of course, getting the Call of Duty Black Ops reveal, which is expected to be set during the Gulf War. Microsoft has also landed marketing deals for some major upcoming third-party titles too, with at least one gameplay debut that may bring solace to one weary fanbase. 

There's also always the potential for total surprises too. I've heard about some nostalgic announcements that should chase away the blues for classic Xbox 360 RPG fans, Microsoft also has Killer Instinct developer Iron Galaxy back on board, working on the franchise again. Perhaps we see some other classic games revived, or a big new Activision-aligned backwards compatibility drop. People have been holding out hope for Xbox 360 classics like Prototype and Singularity to arrive on the platform as well.

This could be one of Microsoft's best ever Xbox showcases for raw gaming content.

As for me, I would honestly just like to see Microsoft throw some reassurances to the core fans who are confused and, rightfully concerned about the direction of the operation over the past few months. I would like to see some support from long-time holdouts like Square Enix, who have spoken about their intents to support Xbox more in the future. I want to see expansions and investments in service games I enjoy, from Fallout 76 to World of Warcraft. I'd honestly love to see some form of Fallout announcement, literally anything, given how the TV has really renewed interest in this franchise. Even if it's a Fallout 5 logo, I'd be pretty contented with that one. 

I'm incredibly confident in the quality of the upcoming slate, and indeed, high-quality games that get fans excited and talking will doubtlessly cut through some of the gloom. Strong showings from Microsoft's near-term slate and exciting hints for the longer-term are something that I wholly expect — now we're post-pandemic, with many of Microsoft's previous acquisitions now more fully integrated, this could be one of Microsoft's best ever Xbox showcases for raw gaming content.

I close by asking this: drop in the comments, what do YOU want to see the most?

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • Rebecca Spear
    Ever since I saw the trailer with Richard Ayoade as Dave, a giant "vegetable enthusiast," I've been sold on the tone for Fable 4. It's been a year since that trailer came out and so I really hope the 2024 showcase gives us a Fable 4 gameplay trailer. We need to see what combat and general mechanics are like for the game. Plus, I want to see if they've updated the graphics.
  • MikeyJayRaymond
    State of Decay 3.

    I've been wanting and begging to see something new from Undead Labs. As an avid fan since the first and second games were initially called Class 3 and Class4 respectively. I've always wanted them to push towards their original idea of an MMO-esque version for a State of Decay sequel.

    Hopefully they can finally see that through or at least see their true vision come to fruition. What's more, who doesn't want more Fable? It's the only original Xbox game I've found myself still playing years later.
  • Akashdeep3469
    Gameplay trailer for Fable. Playground Games has been the most reliable developer for Xbox thus far and I feel like they're onto something special with their RPG.
  • Zachary Boddy
    I've put innumerable hours into State of Decay 2 with my partner, so I've been impatiently and eagerly waiting for any tidbit of news on State of Decay 3. Undead Labs has every chance to finally fulfil the incredible potential of the SoD franchise under Xbox Game Studios and alongside the experts at The Coalition and more. Beyond that, I'd love to see more of Fable and Everwild.